Initiatives Taken by Three States to Promote Increased Access and Investment

RCED-96-68: Published: Mar 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on three states' initiatives to promote increased access and private investment in advanced telecommunications.

GAO found that: (1) Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina encouraged telephone companies to make private investment in advanced telecommunications infrastructure by offering to become their major customers; (2) in 1987, Iowa financed and built its own network, since the telephone companies were reluctant to make the investment needed to provide these services; (3) by 1990, telephone companies in the other two states began upgrading their systems on their own and were more willing to make investments, since they realized that long-term arrangements provided a steady income and states were better customers than competitors; (4) to provide affordable access to many people, all three states are making advanced telecommunications services available through sites located in public facilities; (5) some states and federal agencies are assisting local organizations by paying some of the equipment and connection costs and reducing the rates for using these services, even at remote locations; (6) all three states plan to make these services available to many more sites over the next several years; (7) the three states have given high priority to connecting high schools to the network, but more than half of the high schools in these states remain unconnected and even more rural high schools are not connected; and (8) building and maintaining consensus among interested parties, addressing the concerns of these parties, and ensuring a stable source of funding will be important to prevent construction delays, promote present and future widespread use by local organizations, and the successful implementation of the advanced telecommunications network.

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